Give the bench the boot! using manning theory to design youth-sport programs

Brad Hill, B. Christine Green

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Modified children's sport programs are intended to increase opportunities for participation, skill acquisition, satisfaction, and enjoyment. Unfortunately, teams in modified programs sometimes consist of more players than can participate at any one time. Barker and Gump's (1964) manning theory is used to analyze the effects of a modified children's soccer program that excludes children from game participation by relegating them to the role of substitutes. Participant observation and interviews with coaches, parents, and players were conducted over 2 seasons. Findings are consistent with propositions from manning theory. Children's teams provide a better social climate, more skill development, and greater enjoyment and satisfaction when teams are not allocated substitutes. These advantages are not reduced, and are sometimes elevated, when teams must sometimes play short handed. Administrative concerns about the potential risks of fielding teams without substitutes are found to be unwarranted, and the presence of substitutes restricts opportunities for youth-sport organizations to attract and retain members. These findings suggest a framework for the design and maintenance of modified children's sport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-204
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Sport Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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